R Empowerment arrived on the scene at Spanish Cove townhomes in St Louis, Missouri on March 10th 2018 for a week of resident empowerment.
Little did we know the impact we would have on residents and our ability to stop eviction.
You see, this was the first launch of our program bringing the vision of raising the collective consciousness while helping and empowering those in need.
The team of R Empowerment was armed with enthusiastic volunteers, free course materials, and empowerment classes to help the residents grow and learn in the areas of money management, credit repair, skills needed for how to land a job, and introductions to finding new income streams. In addition, we offered classes for goal setting, visioning exercises, and meditation. We even offered various empowerment classes for the kids as well.
After spending a week at Spanish Cove and engaging with the residents, it became clear many had needs that would be unmet with just an ongoing weekly class or two.
We were informed by the property managers that they were suspending evictions since the start of the year. They wanted to give the residents more time so they could catch themselves up with their tax refunds.
However, due to new tax laws and government garnishments, many resident’s financial reprieves never came and the pending reality of being evicted was becoming more real with each passing day.
St Louis is fourth on the list of U.S. cities plagued by evictions.
The R Empowerment team was alarmed by this statistic and we knew we had to come up with a plan fast to help our new friends.
We were given a list of resident’s names who were ready to be “sent to legal” for failure to pay their rent. We reached out to each one. Most were already in hiding in an attempt to avoid the cold threatening calls of creditors.
It wasn’t easy explaining to the residents we were there to assist. After all, why should they believe anyone was willing to help them when they had already made numerous attempts with local nonprofits, city and state agencies to no avail.
Once we convinced the residents we were there to help, we conducted one-on-one meetings with each resident and asked:
“What caused you to fall behind on your rent?”
It’s interesting to note that almost all of the delinquent residents had the same situation: It was due to an unexpected and/or unforeseen circumstance. Furthermore, when one lives paycheck to paycheck and is just barely getting by, it’s easy for all of us to understand how one can fall behind.
People in this situation face an inescapable hardship and the inevitable reality of eviction.
According to Matthew Desmond in his book Evicted, “It is estimated that millions of Americans are evicted every year because they can’t make rent. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city of fewer than 105,000 renter households, landlords evict roughly 16,000 adults and children each year. That’s 16 families evicted from the court system daily. New York City sees 60 marshal evictions a day. The most recent version of the American Housing Survey asked people: “Do you think you’ll be evicted soon?” Renters in more than 2.8m homes said yes”.
Although the reality that millions of Americans living in the U.S. are currently homeless, R Empowerment is taking action and will save 36 residents from the fate of eviction by the end of April 2018.
“You are such a blessing to me and I’m going to keep pushing as hard as I need to. Thanks for all the help and I appreciate you seeing the good in me.”
Ashley Kimble, Spanish Cove Resident
Our Empowerment program requires each resident to begin paying their full rent upon entering our agreement. Their back rent is temporarily “shelved” until we can determine (through budgeting) the amount they can afford to start paying in order to catch up.
In the meantime, our program introduces each resident to financial empowerment and the personal satisfaction of learning how to budget effectively while making good on their outstanding debt.
Not only do we help the residents get back on their feet and learn to become financially self-empowered, but we made a big difference for the bottom line of Spanish Cove as well.
R Empowerment’s budgeting program guided residents through the process of money management and more than 59% of the past due rents were paid.
Not only would the property previously have netted zero on lost rents, but in addition, be faced with absorbing the exuberant costs involved with the expense of eviction. Also, worth mentioning, the residents are on track to be able to pay their rents heading into May which places the property and the resident in a much stronger financial position.
As long as the resident meets the requirements of the program and continues to pay all future rents on time and a portion of their outstanding balance R Empowerment will subsidize a portion of the back rents on behalf of the residents through donations from compassionate individuals like yourself.
Another program offered by R Empowerment allows residents who are taking the initiative to better themselves to become part of our mentoring program. Each resident receives one-on-one coaching with volunteers who mentor them in personal and financial accountability. Furthermore, residents learn new ways to self-empowerment and effective ways to ensure they don’t fall behind.
“I have never seen or heard of any housing development offer these classes to the residents. This is a very special opportunity to make a change”
Great Southern Bank
According to Matthew Desmond: Roughly 330m urban households worldwide live in substandard or unaffordable housing demanding more than 30% of their income. By 2025, based on migration trends and global income projections, that number is expected to climb to 440m households, representing 1.6 billion people.
The world is becoming urbanized, and cities are becoming unaffordable to millions everywhere.
Desmond also sights, “The two great global threats of our time are climate change and unlivable cities”. He calls out to all of us, who can afford to live in a gated community or not, that it’s time to get to work.
Now a year into our program, we are confident we are on the right path of helping those who face eviction. R Empowerment’s proactive approach in reaching out to residents allows us to strengthen our mission of Empowering those in need. This is our first step towards mitigating the nationwide epidemic of homelessness. This growing problem impacts all of us and lowers the collective consciousness. We will continue to explore new programs and make existing ones more effective. In addition, find new ways to empower residents allowing for a second chance and new beginning. Look how far we’ve come…